Coming to Milan, I had no idea how I was going to pack my life into 2 suitcases for almost 5 months. But after getting settled in here, there were a few things that I forgot at home. When I looked at the weather for what I needed to pack, I saw that the lows were only 40s and highs around 60s for the time that I am here. Being from Kansas City, this is warm for the wintertime! So I packed one puffy coat and minimum layers for the cold. Since it is still winter season in Milan, I don’t know about what I recommend for spring time. However, some items that I wish I had brought that I ended up buying in the wintertime here include: more coats (peacoats), more long sleeved shirts, a winter hat, and at least one pair of booties. Obviously I knew that Milan is the fashion capital of the world, but after seeing all of the beautiful coats and fur coats and accessories, I wish I had brought every single one of my coats that I own. Because regardless of what the Milanese wear under their coats, they are fashionable from under their coats to over it.
However, I did bring some things that are useful while I have been here. I do laundry at least once a week but bringing 2 pairs of jeans, 2 weeks worth of underwear, 1 week worth of socks, and 2 pairs of leggings is the right amount of clothing to pack without over-packing or under-packing the basics. I also came to Milan with 1 bottle of shampoo, conditioner, etc to last me until I could find a store to get these items when I ran out. Overall, I think I brought close to everything I needed and if I didn’t, it is easy to buy anything I need (or want) here!
Preparing for my time abroad, I wasn’t as excited as I was nervous to say goodbye to my home, friends, and family for a whole semester. I knew I wasn’t going to be as excited until I officially was here in Milan because I knew it was going to be hard to say goodbye. But in the months/ weeks coming up to the day I left, my preparation included doing all the paperwork and tasks needed to be abroad. These included: letting the bank know I was going to be out of the country, applying for a credit card, getting all the prescriptions I would need for 5 months, and of course gathering everything I was going to need for my time abroad. The time in between fall semester ending and my time to leave the states, I had 3 weeks to do my preparation which also included eating all my favorite foods and making time to see all my friends and family. It was very stressful and hectic, but I knew it would all pay off in the end!
The first few weeks in Milan, it didn’t feel real that I was actually living here. It took me a while to go from the vacation feeling to feeling that I was soon going to pick up the Italian culture and feel like a local. But the more I ventured around the city, talked to locals and picked up Italian sayings, I felt more and more comfortable being here and started to feel more like an Italian while slowly leaving some American ways behind. I can’t think of a time that I specifically experienced culture shock, but the second day of being here I remember it all sinking in that I had 5 months here. That was the only time it hit me and I experienced a lot of homesickness that day. We had a week to get adjusted before classes started and I remember being excited for classes to start so I could get into a routine and a schedule. After that, I haven’t felt the same homesickness. As of March 1st, I will have been here about a month and a half. By this time, I miss my family and friends, but I know when May comes, I won’t want to return home because I already feel like Milan is becoming a second home.
Elena is a current student at University of Missouri studying at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Italy during the Spring 2015 term.